Q&A: Knoxville City Council 2017 Primary Candidates

In Cover Stories, Q&As by Tanner Hancockleave a COMMENT

Knoxville’s 2017 primary election begins Aug. 9 with early voting and concludes on election day, Aug. 29. There are 30 candidates for Knoxville City Council’s five open seats. Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 will all see new leadership in the coming year, with the first- and second-place winners of the primaries from each district moving on to the final Nov. 7 general election (with early voting starting on Oct. 18). 

In an effort to learn more about the candidates’ objectives and ideas, we sent each one a questionnaire on very specific issues facing the city. We will be adding more responses if we receive them. (Responses were edited only for spelling and punctuation.)

FIRST DISTRICT
GREG KNOX

Age: 37
Occupation: Software Developer
Education: A degree in Digital Media from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida
Volunteer Work: Emerald Youth Foundation, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, World Changers
Political Affiliation: None

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
My campaign motto is “Keep moving Knoxville forward,” because I feel Knoxville has been and continues to head in an amazing direction. The rave reviews of our city keep pouring in. I’m a 6th generation South Knoxvillian and I’ve seen how far our city has come over the years. With that said, there are always areas where we can improve. I believe that making our city more efficient through various uses of technology can help cut costs and create a more enjoyable experience for our citizens. Our city has taken steps in this direction with parking sensors that will make parking downtown less of a hassle, but we can do so much more. As our world becomes more technologically advanced we need to be sure our city is embracing these technologies to stay ahead and stay competitive. We have the Oak Ridge National Lab as our neighbor, the University of Tennessee in our heart, and forward-thinking companies like Local Motors in our backyard. We should look at making more partnerships with these entities to build a city that is on the bleeding edge of what cities can offer in this state, country, and the world.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
As the saying goes: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” I believe a solid economy with healthy businesses that hire from within the community is the best solution for combating violence, poverty and blight in the community. It’s a complicated cycle because businesses don’t want to open in areas where they feel unsafe and areas stay unsafe because they don’t have quality businesses for employment. We need to identify the best ways for each area to break that cycle and ensure growth and safety can happen together.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
South Knoxville has largely felt overlooked from the rest of Knoxville. The South Waterfront and Urban Wilderness are changing this outlook and will to continue to change. Creating areas that encourage economic growth, healthy living, and safe communities are key in ensuring that development continues to flourish. I believe the upcoming zoning changes to our city are much needed and I look forward to what is in store.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
As the economic activity from the South Waterfront and the Urban Wilderness continue to grow, property values will rise and bleed into the rest of South Knoxville. We need to ensure that those who have planted their lives in our district have a home they can afford. I believe we need to continue to support affordable housing options in our district and other districts. District 1 also has a shortage of a variety of quality businesses. Too many payday lenders and blighted properties, and not enough businesses like Trader Joe’s that would bring a much needed lift to our area. Our district is also in a unique position to embrace a walkable community with multi-modal transportation, sidewalks and bike trails. These features can create a healthier and more vibrant district.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
Technology is my strong suit and what I feel separates me the most. Our world is becoming more and more intertwined with technology and I have a firm understanding of where these various technologies are taking us. I feel that knowledge is vital when taking on the city of tomorrow. As a City Councilman, you take in information from all aspects, discuss these ideas with the other councilmen and residents and come to a decision. I want to make this process more open and clear. I plan to do this with an app I have been working on called “District X.” This app will enable citizens to view items on the council agenda/ The citizens can then give feedback on these items and how they would like to vote, so that I can inform the citizens on how I plan to vote and my reasons for doing so. I also want the app to better enable citizens to have better access to city services. For example: reporting potholes, downed power lines, bulky waste pick-up and much more. The possibilities are endless. You can read more about my ideas for our city at knox.vote.

REBECCA PARR

Age: 52
Occupation: UT Opera Theatre Production Manager
Education: University of Tennessee, Theatre
Volunteer Work: current; Community Action Committee Board, Head Start Policy Council chairperson, previous; Dismas House Board, Kids on the Block Puppets, Community Shares
Political Affiliation: Democrat

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
I feel that affordable housing is an issue that needs our immediate attention citywide. As a community we are not discussing how generational and marginalized families are being pushed out of neighborhoods due to increase in development and rising housing costs. Development is a good thing for our economy and some community building but as we move forward are we considering how existing communities are benefiting and being brought along with the rapid changes? My greatest concern in this regard is that as less affordable housing is available we will be dealing with an increase in homelessness for families.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
We are losing our young people not only to violence but to the epidemic of drugs and I fear that there is a lost generation leading the next generation toward the same path.

We are in need of intervention now. We must become a presence in all of our communities and provide avenues of mentorship, education, technical training, and mostly paths to living wages and jobs that can provide an alternative to street life.

The issues are systemic and must be addressed holistically. If we begin by becoming a visible presence, ready to listen and provide supports to our youth, we can begin to turn the course and lead them to a place of hope and promise. Partnerships with businesses to begin mentoring and training may be a good place to begin substantial interactions.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
I feel that Knoxville is on a path of development that already has momentum for forward movement. I would like to see the vacant spaces and buildings put to use and repurposed for possible multiple use, including affordable housing, trendy eateries or shops. What would be best in the movement of developing our communities is supporting the existing residents and small businesses to allow them to thrive and grow from within those populations, in addition to some new approaches that include our wild spaces being a part or consideration in any new development.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The greatest need we have in both South Knoxville and Fort Sanders is a way to bridge the conversation from what has traditionally been the standard for generations of community, and the rapid changes that are taking place with new development. We need to focus on a conversational bridge from old to new, that includes everyone and considers how all are affected and can benefit from the changes in our neighborhoods as we move forward. As we use any public money toward renewal, are we considering how it benefits the existing communities, and the long term consequences of growth for all economic levels of people in our neighborhoods?

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I have lived in Knoxville for over 35 years and have witnessed as well as taken part in the changes that have occurred in that time. I have a knowledge of our history and a genuine love of our people and city.

I am discussing issues in my messaging that address the opioid crisis, lack of affordable housing and living wages, and I am doing outreach within our communities that are often overlooked and forgotten. I am focused on including marginalized communities such as our immigration, refugee, economically underprivileged and working class families. My outreach has been to go to where these communities exist and seek ways to allow for inclusiveness in all groups of diversity, including our LGBT friends. We are living in rapidly changing times and I know that I can be an ear and a voice that includes the old and new, with our variety of populations, and have a position of leadership that is inclusive and thoughtful. I have served our arts community in a leadership role for almost 30 years and have developed a keen ability to lead with a firm yet compassionate approach that will serve all of Knoxville with my elected position to City Council.

STEPHANIE WELCH

Age: 44
Occupation:
• Vice President of Operations, Great Schools Partnership, 2013-present (Interim President June 2016-May 2017)
• United States Army Reserve, 1999-present. Current Rank-Major. Current position-Executive Officer 7239th Medical Support Unit, Chattanooga, TN.

Education:
• University of New Hampshire – Bachelor of Science, Nutrition, 1991-1995
• University of Tennessee, Knoxville – Dual MS-MPH, Nutrition, Public Health 1995-1997

Volunteer Work:
  City of Knoxville Zoning Ordinance Stakeholder Advisory Committee, Appointed by Mayor and Confirmed by City Council, January 2017-present
  Ijams Nature Center Board of Directors, 2016-present
  YMCA Board of Directors, 2016-present
  Leadership Knoxville Board of Directors, 2016-present
  Chancellor’s Associate, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, 2013-2017
  City of Knoxville Better Building Board, Appointed by Mayor and Confirmed by City Council 2009-2014 (Chair 2014)
  Knoxville/Knox County Food Policy Council, 2010-2014 (President 2010-2012)
  Island Home Park Neighborhood Association Board Member 2011-2012
  East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s Childhood Obesity Coalition, 2008 to present
  Historic Old North Knoxville Neighborhood, Holiday Tour Committee, 2001
  Organized Knoxville’s first “Walk to School Day” Event – Christenberry Elementary – 2000
  Knoxville District Dietetic Association Board Member (1999-2004)
  East Tennessee Breastfeeding Coalition – 1997-1999
  Participated in community meetings throughout the South Waterfront Redevelopment planning process
  Facilitated planning retreats for: South Knoxville Neighborhood and Business Coalition – 2012; Nourish Knoxville – 2016; East Tennessee Community Design Center – 2017
Political Affiliation: (may leave blank)

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Knoxville’s zoning ordinance is being updated for the first time in nearly 60 years, and the outcome will shape how we develop and how we preserve the character of our community for years to come. The current ordinance, which favors a more suburban and separated development pattern, poses challenges both for neighborhoods and developers. Community preferences have changed over the last half-century to include a high demand for more diverse, walkable and mixed-use communities, which can often only be achieved through a complex process of variance requests and interpretation of the outdated code. The process for updating the city’s zoning ordinance has begun and it’s important for City Council candidates to engage now as the ordinance will be adopted after the election of five new council members. Stakeholders from all sectors of the community can provide input throughout the process (recodeknoxville.com).

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Education is an essential determinant of neighborhood safety and quality of life. I have observed firsthand how education offers hope for Knoxville’s urban youth and opens doors of economic opportunity for families and neighborhoods. My experience in public health and in support of public education has allowed me to understand how the relationships between schools, city departments, neighborhoods and other key partners can be strengthened to support the success of youth. This success, in turn, is one key to address the cycle of violence in challenged neighborhoods. As a Councilmember, I would bring a unique perspective and I have developed relationships necessary to understand and guide policy around supporting the education and development of Knoxville’s youth.

A positive relationship between police officers and community members is also essential for crime prevention. The Knoxville Police Department does an excellent job building relationships with neighborhoods and community residents through multiple community-based programs, and by training and developing a professional force. As a Councilmember, I would work to assure that our uniformed officers have quality training, professional development and continued support for positive partnership building in the community, in addition to having the equipment and resources essential to their work.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
In addition to adopting an updated zoning ordinance, strategic public investment is an effective way for the city to leverage private sector investment. The development of the city’s Suttree Landing Park, the surrounding public street improvements, and subsequent ongoing investment by private residents and businesses in that area, is just one example of how investments are spreading beyond downtown. Public investment through grants, new public infrastructure, Tax Increment Financing or other methods must continue to be used strategically to make best use of limited resources. I support focusing along key corridors, such as Chapman Highway and Magnolia Avenue, with planned reach into surrounding neighborhoods. The strategy must be tailored to the unique characteristics and challenges of the specific corridor and neighborhood, and the strategy must include a mix of investments and/or incentives.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
As the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness has boomed, and as the walkability and historic character of Fort Sanders has grown in appeal, housing availability in the First District is more limited. A positive outcome of this trend is that many residents have seen the value of their greatest investment–their home–increase. On the other hand, it has become challenging to find affordable housing options in the First District. Housing diversity is essential to attract and retain diverse people, including families with young children through retirees, and individuals with diverse jobs professions with a range of skills and incomes. As a Councilmember, I would work with the city’s community development department and other public and private sector partners, to assure that new development and redevelopment in the First District includes housing options that ensure the continued diversity of our unique community.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
My 20-year history of service in Knoxville through a career in public health and public education and as volunteer on a variety of boards and committees, combined with 17 years of service in the United States Army Reserve, has provided me with a unique set of experiences and skills. I have had the opportunity to build positive relationships with community leaders, neighborhood residents, city departments and other key stakeholders. I also have a clear track record of being a bridge-builder, connector and facilitator who can help bring together the diverse perspectives of our community. These relationships and skills will help me understand complex issues and make informed decisions that will help continue and build upon the positive momentum already underway in the First District and citywide.

ANDREW WILSON 

Age: 33
Occupation: Arborist
Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Volunteer Work: I pick up trash in the park, along the road in neighborhoods, I help people when I can individually. Sometimes, I join up with an organization or group to help with different events, I have even donated my labors as a tree care professional before to help those in need. I do not keep track and I do not publicize these occurrences because I believe that detracts from the service.
Political Affiliation: Libertarian

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
I believe that one of the most overlooked issues facing Knoxville right now is the Recoding that the city is working through. The city feels the ordinances and zoning codes of Knoxville are outdated and that we need to overhaul the system to streamline it and promote sustainability, connectivity, and community identity. Over the next couple years, there will be lots of opportunities for public input and I have been one of the few candidates that have addressed the issue and have brought it to the public’s attention. We have the opportunity to have an impact on the changes to the codes. The people can use it as an opportunity to choose a freer, more open system, rather than the restrictive system that we currently operate under.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
We need to look at the causes for these cycles and look for way to break the cycles. To do that, we need to stay in contact with our communities. We need to look for ways to break the cycle without creating a cycle of incarceration, which does not solve the issue and only creates a growing burden on our communities. We need to empower our citizens to take responsibility for their lives and help them find the resources to make the change for the better. We need to start treating drugs as a health problem and not a law enforcement issue. Criminal prosecution does not solve the drug problem, it only places nonviolent offenders in the same prison as the violent ones, where they learn to be violent, and this only grows the cycle. We need to move beyond the Drug War that has failed, time for new ideas. At least part of that will require changes at the State level.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
South Knox, along with other parts of town, has a commercial avenues that have deteriorated and need redevelopment. Small businesses are the foundation of our economy, but they are finding it difficult to open due to the high cost of renovating these older storefronts. So a business has to find investors or take out a loan. This makes the first five years harder than they need to be. As community representatives, city counselors should have an idea of what businesses that the community wants in their districts, they can use that knowledge to approach those who want to start/invest in a business and encourage them to start their business in those communities that would support them.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
South Knox needs more business development, we also need more development of our infrastructure with streetlights and sidewalks. There is a need for better maintenance of our parks instead of building new ones.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I am a blue collar worker, husband and father of five wonderful children. In my work as an arborist I engage with people daily, and often times our discussions often move beyond the trees and towards the state of affairs in our city, our state and our country. People open up to me about want they are seeing, how they feel about it and what they want done. I am running to be their voice, the voice of many people in many communities across the city.

***

SECOND DISTRICT
BRANDON BRUCE

Age: 38
Occupation: COO & Co-founder at Cirrus Insight
Education: BA Political Science, MBA, JD
Volunteer Work: CodeTN, Junior Achievement of East Tennessee board, The Muse children’s science museum board, Dogwood Arts board, Northshore Elementary School PTA, United Way Investment Committee on Health & Basic Needs, tnAchieves mentor, Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) mentor, Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP) mentor.
Political Affiliation: (may leave blank)

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
I think the most overlooked issue is jobs and economic growth. Knoxville has more than $90 million in the bank and our economy is strong overall, but we can’t rest on our laurels. I want to build on our momentum by investing in education and job training, cutting red tape to encourage new companies to start and existing companies to grow, and setting as our goal to lead the state of Tennessee in the creation of high-quality jobs.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
A 1 percent increase in unemployment rate causes violent crime to increase by 31 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. I would work to increase education, job training, and the availability of jobs in urban neighborhoods to better address the cycle of violence. The Change Center is a great example of a project that my wife and I believe can make a big difference. One of the most promising aspects of The Change Center is that there will be 60-80 part-time jobs for young people every six months. The on-the-job training and experience they’ll gain will equip them for careers in the community. Chief Rausch and our police department are working hard every day to keep our community safe, and we’re joining them and the Mayor and many others to support The Change Center.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
There is a lot of exciting development happening in the Second District which stretches from Turkey Creek to West Town Mall to the Shops at Bearden to the University of Tennessee campus. For example, my neighbor Bettina Hamblin just opened a restaurant called the Farmacy. My Leadership Knoxville classmate Jake Ogle will soon open a restaurant called Scrambled Jake’s. The re-development of Western Plaza will add offices, retail, and residential to Kingston Pike in Bearden and help make the area one of the centers of gravity for the city. I will work closely with neighborhoods, business associations, the news media, and the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to support these new local companies and development projects, and continue the great momentum we have in the Second District and citywide.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
I’ve been driving, biking, and walking around Second District a lot lately. I think one of the most pressing needs is connectivity. I want to focus on improving traffic flow, and adding sidewalks and bike paths to connect neighborhoods with schools, grocery stores, restaurants, and retail. These connections improve health through exercise, increase safety because people are outside looking out for each other, drive local economic growth and jobs, and make for vibrant and accessible neighborhoods for residents of all ages.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I literally stand out because of my height–I’m 6’8”. I also bring a unique perspective as founder of Cirrus Insight which was the fastest-growing company in Tennessee last year. As a member of City Council, I would work to advance big ideas for Knoxville. For example: 1) Lead the state in the creation of high-quality jobs in Knoxville, 2) Bring Gig high-speed Internet to residents and companies throughout the city, 3) Create savings accounts for all students in Knoxville. In the meantime, prior to the election we’ll be breaking the world record for the number of kids learning to code at one time in Knoxville this September. I’ve posted information on my website at brandonbruce.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/brandonbruceknoxville

  • Editor’s Note: Brandon Bruce is a contributing writer to the Knoxville Mercury.
WAYNE CHRISTENSEN

Age: 71
Occupation: Retired Non-Profit Executive Director
Education: B.S., English, Iowa State University, 1968; U.S. Navy, Lt. j.g. – 1968-1970, U.S. Navy, Lt. j.g. – 1968-1970
Volunteer Work:
• 1967 Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Eminent Deputy Archon (vice president)
• 1990-03 Volunteer: youth, high school and college baseball programs
• 2015-16 Member, Leadership Knoxville Class of 2016
• 2016 Restaurant reviewer, Trip Advisor and Yelp! under name “Vintage Morels”
Political Affiliation: (may leave blank)

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
The opioid crisis in our county and city is the most overlooked issue heading into the county, city, and national elections. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. In Tennessee, the number was 1,263 who died from opioid overdose in 2014. We have to do better, and as City Council members, we have to give our law enforcement the tools to combat this disease, while also promoting, and funding addiction recovery services. This is not an issue that just affects the lower income communities in our city, but affects our entire city, and a strong focus on helping those in need, while funding law enforcement must be a focus of our City Council going forward.

I propose that the city undertake a program to install drop boxes for unused meds throughout the city, or that the city, if resources are available create a drug buyback program for opioids. Much like successful gun buyback programs in other states, our Knoxville city police would provide a process by which the public could sell their illegal drugs back to the government to get them off the street. The D.E.A. has enacted similar policies similar with success. While this might come at a cost to our local government, the cost of opioid addiction comes at a far greater cost to our city in terms of safety, health, addiction and promoting family values that we care so deeply about.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Race relations in this country have been a matter of torment for generations. Genuine distrust among our law enforcement, as well as those of our city, has magnified the issues we face with violence within our city limits. Our current chief of police has taken one approach in establishing a relationship with those in leadership roles in the neighborhoods of our most vulnerable to combat the violence in our city. For a City Councilman to do his job, he must understand the role he plays, and that is of understanding the economical and sociological issues of our neighborhoods that have the most violent numbers. As a City Councilperson, I would want to go to those neighborhoods, ask them their beliefs on how to make their lives better, how to make their neighborhoods better and how we could affect them and their children’s lives for the better in the future.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
The Second District has considerable development already underway. The residents that I would be representing welcome this economic growth, but at the same time, we have to minimize urban sprawl, and/or developing noise pollution and traffic congestion for our community. Such problems are neither good for our environment, nor contribute to a healthier way of life. We need to focus on efforts to attract the younger base of consumers, millennials and ensure that we create bike paths, greenways, more urban mass transportation and smart growth policies that will ensure that our community is growing, but not at the cost of our quality of life.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The greatest unresolved issue is the proliferation of short-term rentals. While I understand that this issue needs to be addressed, I do not feel that the government should forbid residents from using their private property as they see fit. If a person would like to own a short term rental in their home, I believe that regulations need to be put in place to ensure that the negative effect among other residents in the neighborhood is negated and that no property values are adversely affected and traffic congestion is avoided. In essence, I believe all stabilized neighborhoods should be protected while others may need to be stabilized. This is not a one neighborhood fits every neighborhood issue, and we need elected officials to address it that way.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I’ve served in a youth sports nonprofit for over two decades. But before that I coached youth sports teams for over 10 years. All that time, I’ve served my community, not myself. I began just out of college, when I chose to serve my country in the height of the Vietnam War in the Navy. Community leaders should believe in service, not as a stepping-stone to wealth or status. I’m not ambitious or opportunistic. I’m not looking to run for higher office. I’m looking to do what’s right for the people of the Second District and for this city. As a City Councilmember, that’s all I can hope to do or promise to the voters, to represent our communities’ interests and not my own.

ANDREW ROBERTO

Age: 40
Occupation: Small Business Owner/Attorney
Education: University of Tennessee and Knox County Schools
Volunteer Work:
The Salvation Army – Advisory Board Chair
• Recognized in 2014 as the 33rd national recipient of Partner in Mission
• Sertoma Center – Board Member
Knoxville Medal of Honor Convention – Executive Committee Member
Tennessee Veterans Business Association – Member
• Founded INVEST a business plan competition for local veterans
• Celebrate Recovery – Volunteer and Meal Sponsor
Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee – Volunteer
• Donated bike helmets to underprivileged children
Political Affiliation: Democrat

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
As a Knoxville native, I have witnessed the tremendous progress that our city has made over the last decade. However, as the city begins to incur more costs associated with key expenditures like healthcare, we can anticipate that our city’s fixed costs will rise at 3 to 3.5 percent annually over the next decade. Meanwhile, our largest source of revenue is growing at only about 1 percent per year. The city must meet this gap of 2 to 2.5 percent annually by raising taxes or growing the economy to maintain a balanced budget. My focus is on growing the economy by leveraging our unique position with regional economic partners like Oak Ridge National Lab, The University of Tennessee, and Tennessee Valley Authority to continue to effectively grow our economy.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
One of the leading sources of crime in our neighborhoods is the opioid epidemic. It is evident in increased incidents of property crime and an increased number of overdoses city-wide. From January 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, there were 55 overdoses in District 2 alone, and 309 in the rest of the city. This has led to a spike in required overtime hours for our men and women who serve in law enforcement.

This is an epidemic that is putting pressure not only on our judicial system and its ability to fight all forms of crime, but on our entire community. We must confront this issue now and to do so I’d like to see a review of the Knoxville Police Department’s force strength to ensure that we are adequately staffed to address the safety needs as our community continues to grow.

In addition, we need to utilize all of the tools at our city’s disposal to shut down illegal drug operations and pill mills operating throughout our city. This should include the strategic use of zoning as well as the enforcement of our public nuisance laws. The operators of pill mills are creative in the way that they operate, therefore, we must devise creative approaches to effectively combat their efforts.

I am also supportive of initiatives like the Safety Center and other grassroots groups (The Change Center and the Lonsdale Community Center, for example) who are actively taking steps to help combat these issues within our neighborhoods.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
We have all seen a dramatic turnaround in downtown Knoxville, which was achieved by strategic investment designed to encourage positive economic growth. Spreading development outside of downtown will require investment from the private sector. To attract the positive investors we are looking for, more efficiency needs to be built into the permitting process.

At its core, it is a sense of community that continues to drive and sustain the progress we see today. I believe that by tapping into that sense of community, we can further build upon our momentum downtown and achieve the same success across our city. By facilitating smart development within our corridors and connecting our greenways and public spaces, we can improve each neighborhood, making our entire city more visually appealing and walkable, while maintaining the distinct character and heritage of every community.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
There are many exciting things happening in District 2. We’ve seen growth in locally owned small businesses, as well as significant investment at Lakeshore Park. We need to continue the positive momentum by modernizing our zoning rules and regulations. The basic structure of our current system was drafted in the 1960s and its 44 zones are confusing and outdated. By modernizing our zoning code we can build with simplicity, clarity of use and the stability necessary to encourage investment and strengthen our neighborhoods.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I’m glad to see so much interest in serving our community. For me, City Council is a natural extension of my current contributions to Knoxville, both in community service and in public service as a former Knox County Election Commissioner. To this role, I bring experience as a young entrepreneur who started a local company in his 20s and who runs a successful small business today. My professional experience and track record of community service gives me a unique perspective to bring to City Council. As a Knoxville native, I am a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee and our Knox County public school system. I’m raising my family in this great community and quite simply, Knoxville is home. I am deeply invested in our vibrant and growing city and I’m ready to get to work on behalf of all Knoxvillians to continue to move our city forward.

DAVID WILLIAMS

Age: 64
Education: BS,MA (magna cum laude),EdD (highest honors)
Volunteer Work:
• Math tutor for 40 years (various ages) now retired.
• President of the Pond Gap Area Neighborhood Association
• Member Marble City Historical Society and Pond Gap/Mann St. Civil Rights Plaza Committee
• Conducted ‘Mathmindedness’ contest for high schoolers
• Member of Center City and West Knox Republican clubs
Political Affiliation: Republican.

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Government has grown too large and has forgotten it is employed by the people. Public officials far too many times make laws affecting neighborhoods and businesses while not being familiar with either one. The government forgets the best solutions often come from neighborhood groups and businesses.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
The problem requires a broad spectrum of the public and private sectors working with faith based and neighborhood groups. Each has a vital role to play. Young people need the hope of a proper education and fulfilling employment so they may serve the community as role models. As a math instructor i know from experience that you show a student how to work a problem then the student does the work. This show and do approach is like an apprenticeship. Older neighbors in the community can fill this role. With the proper path to follow the young people can become police officers, firefighters, engineers, or work in public service bringing stability and continuity back to the area and help break the cycle of violence.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
Follow the Pond Gap example. Working as neighborhood president along with caring neighbors our history was showcased which attracted businesses. Old landmarks were highlighted with decorative banners or well-crafted signage. Some businesses displayed historic photos from my family collection (4th generation in Pond Gap). Public support was gathered for each new business this support was displayed before the planning commission, or zoning board, or whatever was required. Then the community supported each business with patronage.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
Allow neighborhoods to work with businesses. When both are in agreement let this relationship speed up any governmental approval.When laws are made concerning mixed use or other concepts mandate in those rules the role neighborhoods should be allowed to play. Neighbors know best what their neighborhood needs.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I bring people together whether in tutoring students of many ages and backgrounds or working with my neighbors. Relating to people’s needs and concerns is a valuable asset. I have the problem solving skills to help neighborhoods all around. Bringing people together runs in my family from my uncle who took part in and now my efforts to honor those amateur baseball games that promoted racial harmony in the 40’s and 50’s along Sutherland avenue in the Pond Gap community. Black and white people came together to enjoy good baseball that involved mixed teams, white teams and black teams. Our plaza idea is to erect baseball figures along the right of way along Sutherland to honor the players and spectators that brought our community together. The area was across from Dead End BBQ. Pond Gap was a diverse community from the ’30s and on to today.

***

THIRD DISTRICT
JAMES EDWARD CORCORAN III

Age: 37
Occupation: Attorney, with a focus on representing abused and neglected children and their families.
Education:
• Bachelor of Arts in English with Minor in Political Science, UTK
• Doctor of Jurisprudence with Concentration in Advocacy and Dispute Resolution with Honors, UTK
Volunteer Work: Knox County Board of Zoning Appeals, Pro Bono Legal Services,
Political Affiliation: Republican

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Drug Abuse. It’s not overlooked by the people of Knoxville, or the press, but in our city’s law enforcement budget has not changed to adequately respond to the crisis

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
One of the biggest causes of violence is the disparity of opportunities between the most wealthy and the least. The city has been providing creative financing and tax relief to Knoxville’s wealthiest developers, without paying critical attention as to whether these developers are creating long-term jobs with sufficient wages. We need to continue to encourage law enforcement recruitment from our urban neighborhoods. Our communities will cooperate better with law enforcement, when law enforcement personnel come directly from those communities. People would be more likely to work with law enforcement officers who can relate to their experiences.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of Downtown?
We must reverse the trend towards providing incentives only to a small group of developers in the downtown area. We need to broaden our focus and see if we can reduce the economic burden of our taxes for aspiring entrepreneurs, either through incentives, or by decreasing our overall spending so that we can lower taxes. I believe our small business owners make the greatest contribution to our local economy, and they have been hindered by excessive regulation and taxes.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The Knoxville Fire Department reported in April that the 37921 zip code has the highest amount of drug overdose calls, and the problem is getting worse. If we do not stop the drug problem, our neighborhoods will not be safe.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
In my law practice, I have been on the front lines dealing with the drug abuse crisis in Knoxville, and I intend to use my perspective and experience to improve Knoxville’s response to this growing problem. Also, I have a good working relationship with our area’s state representatives and County Commissioners, so I will be able to cooperate with those entities to make sure our district gets the attention it deserves.

DE’OSSIE DEON DINGUS (response not yet received)

JODY MULLINS (response not yet received)

SEEMA SINGH PEREZ

Age: (Not Given)
Occupation: Program coordinator for The Batterers Intervention Program at Alternative Counseling Center
Education: The University of Tennessee
Volunteer Work: Casa, mobile meals, PBS
Political Affiliation: None

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Knoxville has issues with not having enough workforce and affordable housing availability. We need better childcare options that are affordable for all families but a larger concern for single-parent households. Knoxville needs to address the rising violent crime and opiates issues.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Addressing the various forms of violence would need a multifaceted approach. We need to research what has and has not worked in other comparable cities. These solutions need to focus on the root of harmful cycles and systems. The issue of violence against women concerns me greatly. I work in a rehabilitative setting with domestic violence offenders and I would recommend that children that are being raised in homes with intimate partner violence be guided and educated on how to end the cycle.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
The Knoxville downtown redevelopment has been impressive. I would like to see redevelopment in other parts of the city begin with the community that will be affected coming together to discuss what is desired. Then find the partners in the business community willing to work on that vision.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
In Knoxville’s Third District, we want our major corridors developed in keeping with the character and needs of the neighborhoods. We want good jobs with good wages that provide us with income to care for ourselves and our families. We want our children engaged, drug free, with bright futures and good prospects available for them in Knoxville.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five city council seats. How do you stand out?
There are many things that distinguish me from other candidates. My family has been in Knoxville for over 40 years. I attended school here from West Hills Elementary to UTK. I am an immigrant woman of color from India and I am married to an Hispanic man. Although that distinguishes me, what qualifies me is that I bring my vast experience in several arenas. I am skilled in searching for solutions to social issues on many levels from fieldwork to the administration of programs. I am familiar with the Criminal Justice system in Knoxville. Having started a small business, I understand the difficulties of business, it’s ownership and management. I bring to the City Council a representation of Knoxville’s multiculturalism and skill set that will help meet the needs of all Knoxvillians.

***

FOURTH DISTRICT

DAN DAVIS (response not yet received)

JACK KNOXVILLE (response not yet received)

AMELIA PARKER (response not yet received)

LAUREN RIDER

Age: 42
Occupation: Partner, Flatiron Restorations, LLC; Librarian, Pellissippi State Community College – Division Street
Education: Master of Library Science, Indiana University; Bachelor of Science, Exercise Science, Georgia State University
Volunteer Work:
• Broadway Corridor Task Force – Member & Co-Chair, 2014-current
• City of Knoxville Public Property Naming Committee, 2014 – current
• First Creek & Greenway clean-ups (bi-annual), 2005-present
• Old North Knoxville neighborhood clean-ups (bi-annual), 2005-present
• Love Towers Annual Ice Cream Social, 2014-current
• City of Knoxville Neighborhood Advisory Council, 2010 – 2016
• Knox County Library Advisory Council, 2008 – 2014
• Old North Knoxville, Inc., Board member 2006 – current, President 2010 – 2015
• KAT Community Advisory Committee, 2006 – 2009
• Old North’s Victorian Holiday Home Tour, Committee member (current) and chair (2006 – 2016)
• Pellissippi State Student Affairs Annual Day of Service, 2015-2017
• Volunteered for various activities such as Open Streets, support of local startups/entrepreneurial efforts.
Political Affiliation: (may leave blank)

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Growth and housing are a challenge we need to address in Knoxville. As one of the fastest growing cities in the state, we see a real strain on housing supply, which affects affordability and availability. Housing is essential to our stability and ability to attract and keep businesses. Renters and buyers are finding less and less available and/or affordable. When demand pushes housing further away from employment, commutes and traffic increase and quality of life decreases. Housing is also a primary factor in our ability to address homelessness. In 2017, Knoxville was hit hard in housing options for elderly and disabled participating in the Section 8 voucher program. The number of landlords participating in the Voucher program decreased drastically. As a result, 2017 had an increase in homelessness as some of our long-time housed elderly and disabled lost their homes. The city needs more housing, particularly for middle and lower income ranges. As we focus on increased economic development and revitalization, we must consider and address the need for housing at all income levels.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Addressing the cycle of violence is multifaceted and positively impacted by job opportunities, education/job training and safe/stable neighborhoods. Supporting and partnering with KPD, education providers and social service providers is a strategy to addressing violence and its root causes. KPD is often at the “front line” of violence, responding to calls and moments of crisis. I would focus on building stronger relationships between KPD and the community. Trust and partnership with KPD is essential, as is training for officers in de escalation and awareness of community partners for those needing help. To get someone out of the cycle of violence, we must provide a way out: shelter, legal help, clothing, addiction treatment, and other essential support. Currently, we are short officers and are training only 39 to fill vacant positions. Efforts to recruit new qualified candidates and train them to be excellent officers and community partners is essential.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
I’ve contributed to revitalization efforts in North Knoxville since 2005, and as a Council member I could offer firsthand development experience with a community-minded perspective. I have an understanding of the processes and expenses, the zoning and planning, as well as the building process. As a city we can focus on improvements to zoning and plans review processes. Downtown is thriving and redevelopment of the “spokes” that leave the strong center core are in progress. Specific barriers in the zoning code that stall good projects must be addressed in the Recode Knoxville process. In 2018, City Council will work on the zoning changes, based on public input, and it is critical to have council members that understand zoning and development. My experience in development and business/community partnerships makes me uniquely qualified to represent the city during this process.

I helped initiate and serve on the Broadway Corridor Task Force, created to spur development and interest in North Knoxville. In 2014, we organized to spotlight areas in need of development and work to collaborate with businesses and neighborhoods in those areas. Through conversation, an extensive public input process and with support of the East Tennessee Community Design Center, we now have a Corridor Visioning Plan to aid future infrastructure planning and serve as a launching point for private/public conversations on redevelopment.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The Fourth District is filled with amazing neighborhoods. Talking to neighbors across the district, I hear a great demand to connect our neighborhoods and business corridors. Neighbors want to walk to shopping centers, but lack access to safe, signalized crosswalks. They want to bike to local restaurants or friend’s house, but lack safe routes or greenways. They want decreased traffic, but the only safe routes are by car. They want to walk to church, but the route there has no sidewalk. We can create stronger neighborhoods and support commercial centers by tying our neighborhoods/business centers together via existing sidewalks and greenways.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
My experience in redevelopment and record as an active community leader working for safe, strong, quality neighborhoods. For 12 years, I’ve been involved in neighborhood and city meetings, which has prepared me to help voters on the important issues the city works on: speeding in neighborhoods, blighted/vacant property solutions, neighborhood watch and KPD neighborhood liaison programs, city parks with solar-powered electric service, homeless solutions and services, redevelopment on corridors connecting our neighborhoods, greenways, preservation of existing homes and buildings and zoning and parking needs for mixed-use development.

As an engaged neighborhood leader (Old North Knoxville President & Knoxville Neighborhood Advisory Council member), I’ve worked on solutions that move the community forward while preserving the character that we love and find unique. As a developer, I’m known for hands-on leadership and collaborative partnerships to tackle blighted properties. As a Council member, I would be committed to continuing to focus on revitalization, stability and quality economic development in all neighborhoods.

HARRY TINDELL

Age: 56
Occupation: Insurance Broker / Consultant
Education: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, B.S. Business, Finance
Volunteer Work: I have been involved in a variety of community organizations, volunteered in many political campaigns and supported many charitable and civic causes.
Political Affiliation: Democrat

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
The most overlooked issue facing Knoxville is the multi-faceted issue of substance addiction, mental illness and access to healthcare. The opioid crisis in Tennessee has reached epidemic proportions, leaving behind a trail of crime, violence and tattered lives. The Safety Center is only a start in addressing these problems. The homeless population is particularly affected by these issues, and we will need to work with our federal, state and local partners inside and outside of government to make progress in addressing the problem.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Violence and crime appear to be rising in Knoxville. We will need to address many issues to create safe neighborhoods and communities. Central to this is the need to halt the decline in the number of city police officers, and to be creative in better utilization of the law enforcement resources that we do have.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
Knoxville is already growing beyond downtown. I believe that the new majority on City Council can most affect growth by finalizing the new zoning ordinance, through smart growth, development and re-development, and by maintaining stable city tax rates.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The Fourth District is perhaps the most diverse part of Knoxville. Preserving strong neighborhoods and ensuring safe communities is the foundation to livability and quality of life in the Fourth District. Beyond that, traffic congestion, economic opportunity and good jobs are needs that cannot be ignored as we move forward.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I am the only one of the 30 candidates for City Council that has held elective office. My service to the community, in both state and local government, allows me to hit the ground running as a new majority is elected to City Council in November. My knowledge, experience and relationships will be valuable in addressing the issues in a manner that continues moving Knoxville forward.

***

SIXTH DISTRICT

JOYCE BROWN (response not yet received)

JOHN A. BUTLER (response not yet received)

MAURICE L. CLARK SR. (response not yet received)

MICHAEL COVINGTON

Age: 57
Occupation: Industrial Consultant
Education:  B.S. Industrial Engineering; North Carolina State University
Volunteer Work: East Knoxville Community Meeting; CONNECT Ministries
Political Affiliation: Republican

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Knoxville is no longer a municipality that can boast jobs like those at the old Standard Knitting Mill or White Lilly flower. Now Knoxville must devote resources to the natural alternative which is tourism. The Knoxville Zoo, the MUSE, Tennessee Volunteer football, Tennessee Smokies baseball (in the future) and all of our other tourist attractions make Knoxville an ideal tourist location that can be enhanced by Visit Knoxville and our hospitality industry.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Much of the crime that plagues Knoxville occurs in or can be related to properties overseen by KCDC. This agency must take a more prominent role in addressing gang and drug activity that takes place on KCDC properties.  Additionally, KPD is short 80 police officers. Two (2) 40 officer training classes are underway. Two additional classes should be started to make certain we have enough officers on the street.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
MPC & KCDC must do a better job of working with developers to promote development activity outside of downtown.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
District Six desperately needs a hospital. District Six is also a federally designated food desert so there’s a big need for supermarkets. Additionally, the city needs to honor its commitment to rebuild the Civic Coliseum and renovate the Civic Auditorium both located in District Six.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I am the only candidate in this election cycle who has specific platform initiatives that a) I’ve been working on since 2014 and b) are vitally important to the entire district’s wellbeing.

CHARLES FRAIZER (response not yet received)

DAVID GILLETTE

Age: 39
Occupation: Real estate/property manager
Education: Bachelor’s Psychology, Certified Property Manager
Volunteer Work: Volunteered over half of my life in my community helping neighbors, the local schools, nonprofit organizations and churches to succeed in their overall mission.

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Education initiatives, Crime & Safety, Healthcare, Economic Development and issues with the homeless population.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
The constituents of the greater Sixth District need a leader they can trust, a person that has exemplary leadership and is committed to the concerns that overall affect the communities. The time is now overdue to be concerned and find solutions for the issues in the greater Sixth District and listen to the constituents and be their voice.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
I want to continue to focus on the problems at hand to provide safety for our children, families and promote economic growth within the communities in order for our residents to have stable jobs and steady income.

I have a lot to do and plan on having a good strategies for the needed change and get the communities more involved in moving forward into a better tomorrow.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
Issues we have within our district are: crime/safety, economic development, education, healthcare, affordable housing and (a lack of) better programs for the youth in our communities.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five city council seats. How do you stand out?
I’m been the community leader and activist that our communities trusted for many years. I have helped put low income families into affordable housing by renovating 35 blighted properties and put families into them. It’s not about shaking hands and hugging babies, it’s about the people and their communities. I received several proclamations from the city of Knoxville on my leadership and community service in our communities, Gov. Bill Haslam signed and sealed a resolution adopted in bill last April about my community leadership. I’m the leadership the people can depend on.

ZIMBABWE MATAVOU (response not yet received)

GWEN MCKENZIE (response not yet received)

JENNIFER MONTGOMERY

Age: 45
Occupation: Principal Broker, Owner, Trotta Montgomery Real Estate
Education: Master of Science, Urban and Regional Planning
Volunteer Work: Lion’s Club, East Knoxville and President, Parkridge Community Organization
Political Affiliation: Democrat

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
The evolution of our city, especially with regard to the revitalization of and around the central business district, has been a remarkable transformation over the last twenty years. Economic activity has, in recent years, begun to spread into old community commercial streets and districts around town. (In addition to the Central Business District, a variety of community commercial streets and districts are in the Sixth District; Sutherland Avenue, E. Magnolia Avenue, University Avenue, Burlington, Five Points, etc.) Meanwhile, suburban malls and shopping centers, scattered around the urban core, are experiencing economic changes as well, as modern shopping patterns change. Residential neighborhoods support the variety of commercial areas of the City of Knoxville.

The quality of linkages, especially greenways and bike lanes and other alternatives to roads, between these commercial areas, hubs of activity, together with their residential neighborhoods, are important components in the continued development of great communities in the City of Knoxville.

Also, as modern shopping patterns change, economic consequences are important to consider proactively, especially as plans are made and expectations are set around commercial districts. For example, with the growing trend in warehousing and product delivery, how will grocery store formats change? How will the role of warehousing change development and redevelopment patterns? Traditional commercial site selection, based on economic and population information in surrounding neighborhoods and communities, is losing relevance. Where and how people work is also changing, especially with the Internet.

Finally, the central business district of Knoxville serves an important representative role in the City of Knoxville. A continued effort to maintain a unique and well functioning downtown is an important priority. I support development that follows good planning, like Smart Growth, concepts in the central business district. I’d also like to see promotion and development of the central business district based on an understanding of socio-economic cycles, current trends, and the infrastructure and adjacencies that promote unique commercial districts, especially with regard to local retail and other business opportunities. I’d like to see development that is prudently planned and developed for the next generation of economic activity in our central business district.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
I don’t have a simple answer to violent crime. It is the highest priority in quality of life considerations.

I think part of the answer is intelligence. I often ask people if they know their neighborhood officer’s name and contact information. Some do. Some don’t. I’d like for everyone to know. I think a real relationship with police officers as trusted community stake-holders is the goal. I think that kind of relationship may be fundamental to police officers having a useful understanding of, intelligence about, how crime is really working in our communities.

Another part of the solution is economic opportunity, especially for young people. How can we give young people constructive ways to contribute and attach to a supportive community and, then, keep them in the community? How do we support talent? How do we create a unique community to retain it? I was really inspired by a tour that I took of the Change Center recently. I’m also impressed by other local community efforts, like SEEED. In Savannah, the mayor has created 500 summer jobs by partnering with local business owners. I support mentoring opportunities.

Finally, I have started a small group of merchants, Magnolia Avenue Market Area, (M.A.M.A.). I’d like to see that organization evolve to better support opportunities and promote interesting places to gather and travel in our Sixth District commercial areas. I think one aspect of safety is attracting more people to public spaces, getting more eyes on the street, not only in neighborhoods but commercial districts as well.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
I think interest is already spreading outside of downtown. I wonder how the shopping districts of my generation, malls and shopping centers, will fare as interest in urban district and neighborhood concepts grows. I think the variety of neighborhoods and districts in Knoxville is an asset that can support a variety of lifestyles. I think promoting the unique qualities of place with prudent planning support is key in spurring development outside of downtown. My understanding is that the new zoning code, long overdue, will be more flexible, based more on performance rather than use standards. I am looking forward to it. Also, I support expansion of redevelopment districts to commercial districts beyond downtown, perhaps focusing tax incentives on the provision of affordable and workforce housing.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
I’ve mentioned the need for economic opportunities and improving the district, especially to support young people and encourage them to stay in the community. I think another important challenge in my district in upcoming years will be welcoming new people and investment into the district in balance with the good ideas and efforts that are already progressing. I also think maintaining housing affordability will be a challenge. In general, how do we grow steadily and incrementally? Another, more specific, question is how do we get help with blighted and vacant properties and maintain the unique historic character of our neighborhoods?

I’d like to spend time and effort toward the development of programs in Chilhowee Park for the benefit of East Knoxville and the greater City of Knoxville. I am especially interested in the close proximity of the park to agricultural land and the agricultural tradition of the grounds. I think the land could be made useful and interesting for agritourism and to address food accessibility and affordability concerns through community gardening and preservation demonstration. I am also interested in the development of unique agricultural, craft, and sport activities, especially for young people, in and around Chilhowee Park during every season of the year. I think Chilhowee Park is an overlooked asset for the City of Knoxville.

I am also interested in better educating people and promoting the unique history of East Knoxville. E. Magnolia Avenue, like other main thoroughfares in Knoxville, was once a residential street. Many of the old homes are still standing, giving E. Magnolia Avenue a unique quality and reference to the past. Another example that comes to mind is the history of Speedway Circle, a local street paved in the path of Cal Johnson’s racetrack.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I not only live but own a business in the Sixth District. My family is from the Sixth District. My great-grandfather owned a plumbing shop on University Avenue. My grandfather worked at the lumber yard that was once located down the street from my house. I am tightly tied to this district.

Further, I am prepared in my education and have the professional experience to fulfill the important role of the position with regard to land use decisions. Also, with regard to advocacy, I have the business and economic development background to support the district during the exciting economic changes on the way. Finally, I have a sincere concern and interest in the betterment of my district for everyone. I have the right experience at the right time.

DAMON RAWLS

Age: 43
Occupation: Business Strategist
Education: B.S. Finance
Volunteer Work: I have volunteered with UUNIK Academy, Knoxville Area Urban League, Mighty Men of Valor, #YEP, Volunteer East Tennessee, and United Way of Greater Knoxville.
Political Affiliation: (may leave blank)

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Issues around safety are usually at the top of most list, but as a community and going into this election economic growth and development especially in underrepresented communities is a key issue that we cannot overlook.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Violence in a problem within our city and is a key issue for not only district representatives but also for residents. As a city council representative, my goal is to build a community where all residents feel secure. I would, as a result, support initiatives around community policing and support programs that engage residents and increase transparency within the law enforcement community. I would also encourage research of new safety programs that have been successfully piloted in other similar communities. I would also promote support of programs that address the issue of community violence with interventions that tackle the economic side of this cycle as well. Ultimately my goal as a councilman is to help ensure all Knoxville residents have the opportunity to live and grow in a safe environment and I would inevitably get behind any plan that does just that.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
I will increase economic development and earning potential by creating jobs in the district and citywide. This will include increasing entrepreneurship and attracting new development. I suggest that we create a Micro-Entrepreneurship program focused on business training and micro-lending. This will be a placed based economic development strategy designed to empower individuals. This program will develop long-term relationships with Community Partners and entrepreneurs that will develop neighborhood leaders bolstering economic growth.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The greatest unaddressed need in District Six is economic development. Specifically, our district is not experiencing the growth of businesses and employment at the speed that other areas in the city are experiencing. Currently development projects are targeted for specific pockets of the city leaving areas like District Six and others out of the plans. The lack of development results in lower employment opportunities, increased crime and greater blithe potential for our district. This is an issue that could be addressed by revisiting the strategic plan for the next five years and consider development opportunities on the horizon that would fit for District Six.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
It is amazing to see how many people have been sparked to run for public office this year. We have 30 people running and the engagement alone says a lot about our city and the potential greatness that is to come. I have spent time in Corporate America, I have been engaged in the Community for 17 years, and I am a business owner. This unique background enables me to see the perspectives of everyone in the city. I understand how big business and development affect communities and neighborhoods. I also understand how important it is to get the community involved in the development process to enhance neighborhoods and not take away from them. My ultimate goal is to build a stronger six and ultimately a stronger city of Knoxville.

KENNIE RIFFEY (response not yet received)

SHAWNEE RIOS (response not yet received)

BRANDY SLAYBAUGH (response not yet received)

 

 

Intern

Tanner Hancock is native Nashvillian and 2016 graduate of the University of Tennessee, a little-known school located in Knoxville, Tenn. He spent several years working at the university's student newspaper The Daily Beacon in differing capacities. When not pushing deadline, Tanner enjoys watching obscure samurai flicks or playing Go.

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